Autodesk University 2010, Part 2

16 Dec, 2010 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin,Nancy Spurling Johnson

At the week-long user event in Las Vegas, Autodesk partners were busy showcasing their latest tools for manufacturing, AEC, and GIS workflows.

Autodesk University (AU) is a chance for the company's most avid users to get the latest technology updates, network with peers, and optimize their use of Autodesk software. But it's also a chance for Autodesk partners to showcase their own new developments for the software and hardware tools that support and extend CAD-related workflows. Following is our look at some of the new products on display in the exhibition hall at Autodesk University 2010, held November 30 to December 3 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (If we missed you, please forward details of your announcement to

This is a follow-up to "Autodesk University 2010, Part 1," which included an overview of AU events, announcements, and industry updates.

3D Scanning

Laser scanning technologies have been growing in popularity for a few years now, and that trend continued at AU 2010. Point cloud data collected by 3D scanners can be imported into CAD software to serve as the basis for accurate 3D models. Big news on this front comes from IMAGINiT Technologies, which recently merged with Avatech Solutions, with its launch of Scan to BIM for Autodesk Revit ($2,495 per seat plus optional $495 annual subscription). The software is the first Revit add-on to provide a direct path from 3D scanning to Revit, the company reports. Designed for Autodesk Revit 2011 (Architecture, Structure, and MEP), Scan to BIM allows Revit users to import and work with data from 3D scanners using industry-standard formats for point cloud data. Users can create native Revit elements, including walls, windows and pipes, directly from a point cloud; import laser-scanned point clouds directly into Revit; visualize the point cloud inside Revit based on color, intensity, or elevation; and analyze discrepancies by comparing the Revit model against the point cloud. (See Cadalyst's full report, "Simplifying Access to Laser-Scanning Data.")

Topcon is taking laser scanning to the streets with its IP-S2 3D mobile mapping system, which combines geospatial positioning receiver, inertial measurement unit, and odometry information collection. Mounted atop a car or pickup truck, the system works in tandem one of several laser scanner models to capture georeferenced point clouds on the go.


Procedural announced a new version of CityEngine, a platform used by entertainment, government, architecture, and GIS professionals to create smart 3D urban models for uses ranging from urban planning to video games. CityEngine 2010.3 includes new operations for urban planning and allows for more modification and editing of the terrain (for modeling projects that involve removing or filling in earth). The company also announced it has partnered with e-on software to introduce CityEngine Vue ($199–299). The new standalone solution enables users of e-on Vue to create large cities with a few clicks and integrate the detailed building or street models into Vue digital landscapes. It is available now for purchase on Cornucopia3D.

Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) demonstrated VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1,  its new tool for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) energy modeling. The software guides architectural firms through the calculation and submission process for LEED certification, giving them access to a detailed library of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) data and a baseline for comparing their own building performance. "You don't need to wait until the end to see your results — you're going to see it as you go," said Dimitri Contoyannis, business development manager for IES. "The numbers are all there for you to cut and paste for the LEED submission."


CadFaster launched a collaboration tool that enables as many as 10 remote users to simultaneously view, annotate, and take measurements from 3D Revit or SolidWorks models. With CadFaster|Collaborate, stakeholders can review a project in real time, without having to install any software. Because the compression process filters out everything but the visual data, files are reduced to 10–20% of original size, making coviewing sessions practical even for users in low-bandwidth environments, explained Tuomas Holma, vice-president of sales and marketing. In the next 12 months, said Holma, CadFaster plans to expand support to all major CAD platforms, including Graphisoft ArchiCAD and Bentley MicroStation.


NVIDIA offered the first public demonstration of its Quadro 4000 for Mac ($1,199.95), developed to support AutoCAD for Mac 2011 and other CAD/CAE applications. Described as a mid- to high-end card, it is currently undergoing Autodesk certification and will begin shipping in January. The company also was showing a technology preview of real-time cloud-based rendering, based on Autodesk 3ds Max with iray photorealistic rendering technology from mental images and powered by NVIDIA's RealityServer, a framework of 36 of the company's highest-end Tesla graphics processing units (GPUs) and 3D web services software. Described as "time-sharing of GPU power," the service will offer ultrafast rendering of very large and highly complex 3D models. Another display in the NVIDIA booth addressed the common question, "Why would I need a professional graphics card for AutoCAD?" A workstation equipped with an NVIDIA Quadro 2000 professional graphics card demonstrated two to four times better AutoCAD graphics performance versus that of a more expensive workstation equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce card. Finally, the company demonstrated Autodesk Maya and Showcase software utilizing its 3D Vision Pro stereo viewing technology ($349 for glasses, $399 for emitter), to debut in January. For use with stereo-enabled 3D software (which is most solutions today), it displays 3D designs in real 3D, providing a more tactile feel for viewers. The emitter can be positioned as far as 100 feet away from users, and even be placed behind walls or other line-of-sight obstructions, without impairing its function.

HP announced the launch of DesignByMany, a challenge-based online community for architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals that currently is running a series of HP-sponsored challenges supporting the theme, “Building for the Greater Good.” Participants can post their own design problems and challenges as well as responding to those posted by HP and others. The first site challenge, kicked off during AU and running through December 19, asked designers to create a parametric version of Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House for the chance to win an HP Designjet 111 Printer.


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